The Best Ways to Protect Against UV Rays

…and tips for relief in case sunburn strikes

How many times have you been out on your paddle board only to realize it’s time to reapply sunscreen?  It’s not a job you look forward to doing. It very well may be the least enjoyable part about going out on the water.  

Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil.  

If you’re paddling in the morning when the sun isn’t strong or you’re out on the water during twilight, you don’t need to put on sunscreen, but all other times on the water you do.  

Don’t forget the sunscreen

It’s recommended that you reapply sunscreen at least every 90 minutes. The risk of skin cancer is too great nowadays to take any chances. Plus, who wants to deal with sunburn?  It’s ugly, uncomfortable, and peeling skin is gross.

Here are our top 3 picks for sunscreens:

  1. Neutrogena Beach Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 70 – the best thing about Neutrogena is how lightweight and fast absorbing it is.  You don’t feel sticky after applying like you may after using some other sunscreens.

    It’s broad spectrum, so it protects against both UVA and UVB rays (the harmful UV rays from the sun).  The beach defense line is great because it stays put better than other brands after you go in the water. Both lotion and spray work well – so that decision is up to you.
  2. BullFrog Water Sport SPF 50 or more – BullFrog was made for surfers, so naturally, it’s a great choice for water sports. It’s the first brand to have offered water resistant sunscreens, making it the OG.

    BullFrog is also great because it contains soothing gels from plants, so if you’re feeling sunburned already, it eases that discomfort.
  3. MDSolarSciences Mineral Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 50 – this is a natural sunscreen that’s great for people with sensitive skin. It’s third on our list because it’s more expensive than most other brands. It doesn’t leave a residue, is broad spectrum, and it checks all of our boxes.

Sometimes dealing with sunscreen, whether it be lotion or spray, can get way too annoying.  

Instead of bothering with sunscreen every 90 minutes, there’s now UV protection clothing.

Sun Protective Clothing

Plenty of outdoor brands, like REI, have begun selling clothing that is equipped with UV protection.  This clothing helps protect you all day as you paddleboard without having to reapply sunscreen (though it is recommended that you use sunscreen as well, but it’s not as important when wearing UV protection clothing).

You’re probably skeptical of UV protection clothing, we know we were the first time we heard about it.

How does it work? Does it really work? Or is it just another buzzword used to sell the same old clothing?

It turns out that it is different from regular clothing… but not all that much. This special clothing is manufactured in a way that allows it to carry a UPF rating.  

What the heck is a UPF rating, you ask?  It stands for UV Protection Factor. The higher the UPF, the better the protection. This rating is granted by ASTM International, which is a legit society that tests all types of materials.

When a piece of clothing has the ASTM rating, you can trust that it is lab tested to guarantee that UPF rating.

UV protection clothing is woven tighter and uses denser fabrics that are proven to protect against UV rays.  Some items are also treated with an ingredient that is said to protect against harmful rays. This will be noted on the label if it is.

The problem is that no company states what this ingredient is. So who knows how it works, how long it stays on the clothing, or if it really does work.

But the good news is that UV protection clothing carrying a UPF rating is actually sewn different from regular clothing, so it’s worth the purchase and does provide protection.

If you don’t want to go out and buy more clothing though, you can look at what you own already and see if it can provide some defense against the sun.  Denim and corduroy are great against UV rays, the problem is they’re not exactly material you want to be wearing while you paddleboard.

The fabrics that help most against UV rays (but work for being on the water) are:

  • Polyester
  • Rayon
  • Unbleached cotton

Turns out bathing suits are made from these materials already. Doesn’t it all makes sense now?

If you have clothing made of these materials, they’ll help protect you, but may not be as tightly woven as clothing specifically made for UV protection. Any clothing is better protection than nothing though.

Tips for when sunburn strikes


So, let’s say you take all the necessary precautions, but still manage to get sunburn. You’re uncomfortable. You’re skins burning. You’re turning as red as a lobster.  

It’s. the. Worst.

Instead of just sitting there and suffering, here’s a few tips on relieving the pain from sunburn:

  1. Aloe – you can use this by getting an aloe plant and breaking open the leaf.  Or you can buy the gel in a bottle. Slather it on and bask in the the glory of the cooling relief.
  2. Cold showers – cold showers help lower your body temperature and decrease inflammation.  If you want to feel like a real tough guy, try an ice bath.
  3. Light clothing – wear clothing that lightweight, isn’t tight, and allows your skin to breathe.  Any item made of a fabric that stays cool is also a plus.

All these tips are great ways to make this summer paddle board season really enjoyable.  Not only will they keep you safe in the sun, but they’ll protect you from uncomfortable sunburn. You don’t want to end up missing any time out on the water this summer, right?

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